BOTH BOOKS WILL RETURN TO THEIR USUAL PRICE OF $3.99 ON FRIDAY JULY 21ST!
BOTH BOOKS WILL RETURN TO THEIR USUAL PRICE OF $3.99 ON FRIDAY JULY 21ST!
Sometimes you have to make some tough decisions. Changing the US and Canadian cover for Summer’s Lease was one of those for me. You see, I loved the old cover. The designer and I worked really hard at getting the concept right, choosing the right model and background to really get the essence of the story. And yet, from the feedback I was getting, it just wasn’t working.
I’m a Brit, and we have particular tastes in covers. You only have to take a look at the top books in the UK romance charts to see that. We like covers with girls on, with bright colors and happy fonts. Especially when it comes to a summer book.
But then if you look at the US romance charts, the cover preferences are completely different. They’re dominated by two concepts — either the manchest (pic of man with a naked torso from the waist up) or by couples. There aren’t a whole lot of pictures of women on their own in there. Yes, there are a few, but these prove to be the exception rather than the rule. Usually, a woman on her own signals Women’s Fic — and that wasn’t the vibe I was looking for here.
So with a heavy heart (and a lighter wallet) we’ve gone back to the drawing board and created a whole new cover for Summer’s Lease, and I have to say I LOVE it. I love the colours, I love the couple, and I love the way it feels so summery, and yet really screams romance, too. Because Summer’s Lease is definitely a romance, between a sexy movie star and a girl who’s just looking for an escape.
If you still prefer female-centric covers, don’t panic – my UK cover remains the same, with a pretty girl staring out across Lake Como, toward a glorious vista of Varenna, Italy. So really, I have the best of both worlds.
It’s now only 4 days until release day, and I really CAN’T WAIT! I’ll be having lots of giveaways and celebrations over on Facebook and Twitter, not to mention with my newsletter subscribers, so make sure to join me there!
And don’t forget that you can still pre-order Summer’s Lease for only 99p / 99c at these places:
Like many good things, my latest book, Summer’s Lease, started off with a ghost of an idea. What if a girl who’d lost everything came face to face with the man who’d ruined her career. And what if he’d had more success than he’d ever dreamed of? From that little kernel a story started to grow. As the heroine – Cesca – is a playwright, I wanted the setting to be secluded, almost like a theatre in itself. That’s where the idea of an isolated villa came from. It had to be behind gates, with no connection to the outside world, and yet beautiful enough for the seclusion to feel luxurious.
And on top of that, there had to be a reason for the heroine to be thrown together with the hero — Hollywood superstar Sam Carlton. And what better reason than the fact they both thought they’d be the only person at the villa? So when Sam, the man who caused Cesca’s fall from grace, turns up at his family’s villa on Lake Como, all hell breaks loose. And thus begins the story of Summer’s Lease.
When it came to researching the location, I felt truly blessed. I also managed to do it a little back-to-front. I started off with my good friend, Google, spending hours on trip advisor and travel blogs, soaking up the hot atmosphere of Lake Como, and becoming hugely jealous of all those rich people and celebrities who spend their summer there. I also spent a lot of time researching the food – finding out about the local produce, some of the best restaurants, as well as the luscious wine that’s produced in the region.
When I finished the first draft, I realized I’d not only fallen in love with the hero and heroine, but also with a whole country. So I turned to my long-suffering (but lovely) husband and said, “can we go on holiday to Italy this year?”
Thankfully, he said yes.
In the end, we agreed that Lake Garda was more suitable for our family of four than Lake Como. So last summer we hauled ourselves and our bags to our local airport and flew out to Milan, where we picked up a hire car and drove across to the lakes. And in a weird way I felt a bit like a girl going to meet a boy she’d met online. I was nervous that it wouldn’t be as beautiful as the pictures and descriptions had made it out to be. That somehow I’d been cat-fished by a country.
But of course it was MORE than I ever thought possible. The lake was as sparkling and blue as I’d hoped it be, the scenery as breathtaking, and the food as mouthwatering as I try to describe in the book. And when our two weeks were over, I got back onto that aeroplane knowing that I’d be back very soon.
And since a picture paints a thousand words, I’ll leave you with some photographs of our time at Lake Garda, and maybe you’ll fall a little in love with it, too.
That’s why back in January I wrote a post about my writing goals for 2017. To give myself some accountability, and to have something to measure myself against at the end of the year. And a bit like reading an old diary, it’s fun to look back and see what I was thinking a few months ago.
In HR, we always used to preach that objectives are only useful if they’re regularly reviewed. And though I no longer have a ‘boss’ to sit me down for a bi-annual appraisal, that doesn’t stop me from rating myself. So let’s see how I’ve done so far this year.
Result – Done and dusted. Well almost. The book is fully edited and will be released on July 13th this year. It’s already getting some lovely reviews on Goodreads, and is available right now to pre-order for 99p / 99c.
Goal achieved. YAY!
Result – achieved. In fact, I think I overachieved this one. Not only has it been submitted, but it’s been through revisions, line edits & copy edits and is just awaiting a proofread. It will be released in November, and I can’t wait for people to read this one!
Result – target achieved. I spent most of the first 3 months of the year writing this book (tentatively titled Absent in the Spring), and since then have set it aside. One of my targets for the next couple of months is to revise and submit it to my publishers. I’m slowly learning to love the revision process (or certainly the outcome) but it’s still damn hard work. Wish me luck!
Done! Wish I could tell you more, but my lips are currently sealed. As soon as I can share, I promise I will 🙂
Result – partially achieved. I talked in this post about an author signing I attended in Newcastle, which was amazing. I also got to network with some fabulous authors at the RNA Summer Party, and at Goldsboro Books’ Romance in the Court. In August I’ll be attending Chaptercon, a multi-author/reader/blogger event in London, and I’ll be going to my first RNA Summer conference, too.
In 2018 I’ll be attending a number of author events, and I’m really excited about them!
As it’s only half way through the year, there are a lot more targets that I need to achieve by the end of December 2017. These include:
But my biggest goal, and one I haven’t spoken about much yet, is that I need to really working on marketing these books. I’ve started to work with the fabulous Social Butterfly PR, who will be helping to coordinate the release of both Summer’s Lease and A Winter’s Tale, along with helping me plan sales, special events and other things to make my readers happy.
By the end of 2017 I’ll have 6 books published, with at least another 2 to come in 2018, and it’s time to make sure they get as much attention as my new projects do. Balancing writing the next book with marketing my backlist is always a hard job, but one I’m determined to work on in the latter part of 2017. Want to know how I get on? Check back in December for my review of 2017!
So that’s it for my half-yearly review. After that I think we all deserve a drink down the pub. I’ll buy the first round, see you there!
It’s less than 3 weeks until Summer’s Lease is released in Ebook and Paperback (shameless pimp – sorry!) and the reviews are starting to come in. One thing all of them have in common is that they love the Italian setting, and in particular the food and drink I describe in great detail.
Researching (and tasting) Italian culinary delights was one of my favourite parts of writing Summer’s Lease. We even spent our summer holiday on the banks of Lake Garda, and then in Venice last year — and it proved to be the best way to make sure that my research was accurate (or a really good excuse to eat and drink my way through Italy!)
So, as a result of this extensive research, I bring you my five favourite Italian tipples. Have I missed your favourite out? Let me know in the comments.
Classed as an ‘aperitivo’, which basically means you get to drink it before you eat (yay!), a Negroni is fast becoming as popular in the UK as it is in Italy. A blend of one part campari, one part vermouth and one part gin, it’s served over a generous amount of ice in a glass tumbler, along with a slice of orange. In Summer’s Lease, the hero, Sam, makes Cesca a Negroni, and she’s suitably impressed. As would I be if anybody made me one (hint hint!)
One of my favourite discoveries during my time in Venice, an Aperol Spritz is one of the most famous cocktails in Italy. To make the perfect Spritz, you need to combine 3 parts Prosecco, 2 parts Aperol and a splash of soda. Like a negroni, it’s served on the rocks with a twist of orange. I spent a lot of time drinking this during my stay in Italy, and have wonderful memories of sitting in a paved piazza with my ice-cold drink in hand, whiling the afternoon away people-watching. If you haven’t tried one yet, I highly recommend it.
Anybody who knows me (or has checked out my Instagram page – here: https://www.instagram.com/carrie.elks/) knows I love white wine, and in particular the fizzy variety! During the summer Prosecco is my fizz of choice. It’s crisp, delicious, and downright tasty. There’s really nothing bad to say about it, which is why it makes my top 5. Chin chin!
In Summer’s Lease, there’s a wine cave set in the side of the hill behind the secluded villa where Sam and Cesca stay. Inside is a treasure trove of Italian wine, and the one that stands out is the Valpolicella. Sam uses his knowledge of wine to impress Cesca, and at one funny part of the book he also uses it to show how well he knows her. Just don’t drink the 2002 vintage – it’s not the best!
Another favourite of mine from my stay in Italy was the post-dinner lemon-flavoured liqueur, Limoncello. It’s thick and sweet, and the perfect way to round of an evening of pasta or risotto. It’s traditionally made from Sorrento Lemons, and should be drunk in small measures. Otherwise drunk will be the operative word!
So there you have it, a list of my top 5 Italian drinks, some of which you’ll find hiding in the pages of Summer’s Lease. The book releases on 13th July, and I highly recommend reading it in the garden (or at the beach) with one of these tipples in hand!
There’s something rather wonderful about a Hollywood romance, in both real life and as a story. Watching LaLaLand earlier this year brought that back to me. Although let’s not talk about that ending. Seriously, let’s not. I’m still in recovery.
So when I decided to write a new series based on four sisters, it seemed natural to have a hero who was a up-and-coming movie star — a huge contrast to the heroine who was a poor, wannabe playwright. And that’s how Sam Carlton appeared to me — almost fully formed before I even put pen to paper. A man who got his first big break at the age of 19, and has been part of the Hollywood machine ever since.
Of course, this isn’t the first time a romance book has ever been written about a movie star and a civilian (I wanted to say Muggle, but J.K. Rowling I’m not.) In fact, some of my all time favorite stories feature the clash of lifestyles between an ordinary girl and a famous star. There’s the hilarious The Unidentified Redhead by Alice Clayton, that features the gorgeous Jack Hamilton wooing a very normal, and notably clumsy, Grace Sheridan. Then there’s the hot Hollywood Dirt by Alessandre Torre – soon to become a movie itself, courtesy of PassionFlix. Love Unscripted by Tina Reber — my very favourite modern Hollywood romance — features a hero (movie star Ryan Christiansen) who literally crashes into Taryn Michael’s small town bar, leading to a chemistry that sizzles off the page.
It’s not just in books that Hollywood Romances can be found, but also (in a rather meta kind of way) in the movies too. I’ve already mentioned LaLaLand, (oh Ryan, why did you break my heart so?) but of course this is only the latest in a long line of movies about movie stars. One of my favourites — and a classic by any measure — is Singin’ in the Rain, featuring a rather gorgeous Gene Kelly singing and dancing his way as he falls in love with Debbie Reynolds. Then there’s Notting Hill, where movie star Julia Roberts has orange juice spilled over her white top by a bumbling yet adorable bookshop owner, Hugh Grant.
What do all these stories have in common? I think in the beginning there’s a mismatch between the hero and heroine, or in this case the movie star and the
muggle *ahem* civilian. It seems as though the movie star is out of their reach, and that a relationship can never work. And yet as the story unfolds, the star becomes more down to earth, and often is searching for somebody who will treat them as normal. Fall in love with them for their personality, not for their handprint outside the Chinese theater. In that respect it’s not so different to a traditional fairytale like Cinderella, where a rich royal falls in love with a poor maid. It’s a modern, up to date (and occasionally gender-swapped) version of all those stories we read growing up.
I think that’s what makes a movie-star romance so magical. It has all the glamour of a fairytale, but with the added edge of a Hollywood setting. For those of us who grew up with our eyes glued to the silver screen, it offers a fantasy that can whisk us away from modern life, and for me, romances don’t get much better than that.
I’m British, which means I’m obsessed by the weather. It’s a national pastime that I’m more than willing to take part in — be it complaining about the rain, or speculating about the possibility of snow. But when the sun comes out, I tend to go into overdrive. Sunny weather is my happy place. It means long days out on our deck, with an ice-cold cocktail in one hand and a summery book in the other. Summer is about vacations and the sea, the beach and a barbecue. More than anything, warm weather is about spending time with family and friends — and it doesn’t get much better than that!
So since the sun decided to take a peek out from behind the clouds this weekend (and as I write, my weather app is telling me that by the time this blog is posted the rain will be back — sorry!) I decided it was high time to write a summery blog. So read on to find out my FIVE favorite things about summer!
I’m one of those crazy people who love salads. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not about being healthy or calorie counting. After all, my favorite kind of salad comes doused with dressing and with a side of french fries. It has to start out with a base of green salad leaves, then a healthy sprinkling of onion and cucumber. On top of that I love me some croutons and maybe some cajun spiced chicken, as well as a creamy dressing — be it caesar, thousand island or just yummy french oil. It has to be hearty, tasty, and full of the taste of summer. Delicious!
There are so many different drinks that really come into their own in the summer. If you like your refreshment with alcohol, then Pimms is definitely the queen of summer drinks. This quintessential British punch-style drink is based on gin and red vermouth, with a large douse of lemonade, all poured into a jug filled with mint, strawberries, cucumber and apples. And it tastes absolutely delicious.
But Pimms isn’t the only good drink to have on a hot summer’s day. There’s also Prosecco, margaritas, and of course an ice-cold beer. All these things make me feel very happy indeed.
For me, summer isn’t complete without a lovely summery story in my hand. Preferably set on a beach, with a pretty girl and a gorgeous guy who try to deny the attraction between them. This year there are a whole load of summer books being released — from Holly Martin’s Summer at Buttercup Beach to Heidi Swain’s Coming Home to Cuckoo Cottage and Sarah Morgan’s Holiday in the Hamptons. Oh, and did I mention I have a summer book coming out too? If you enjoy love stories set in Italy, with good food and a splash of wine (do you sense a theme here), along with a movie-star hero and a smart mouthed English writer, then check out Summer’s Lease.
Summer movies are all about sun, sand and lots of love. The first one that springs to mind is the iconic Dirty Dancing. An uptown girl and a downtown boy meet at a Summer Vacation spot, and love grows on the dance floor. I won’t mention the remake (because really, no), but the original is well worth a re-watch. But if Baby and Johnny don’t do it for you, then check out Grease, Roman Holiday, One Day or Mama Mia, all of which feature scenes in the hot summer sun!
Where better to enjoy summer food, drink, books and movies than on vacation? I love going on holiday with my family — it’s a chance to kick back, relax and spend quality time with those I love. Whether it be in Spain, Turkey or Italy (our most recent three vacations) the real draw of a holiday is being able to take ourselves away from real life and all the worries it brings, and start to relax, if only for a couple of weeks.
So those are the reasons I love summer. How about you? Are you a sun lover or more of a spring person? Let me know in the comments, or send me a tweet!